Ahhh liver. Before you turn your nose up at this poorly appreciated superfood, hear me out. I too used to be against liver. I didn’t grow up eating it—although my immigrant mother did — and the thought and taste turned me off. That is, until I started researching all the health benefits of liver and realized this humble organ meat was considered a sacred food for many of our ancestors. What was the hype all about? Keep reading…
Despite common belief, the liver does not store toxins the body cannot eliminate, it neutralizes them. However, the liver does store valuable vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, K, B12, folate, and the minerals copper and iron—this is what makes it such a powerhouse of micronutrients. Liver has 10x the amount of nutrients as regular muscle meat or fruits and vegetables. In addition, liver has a special “anti-fatigue” factor which researchers discovered in several studies with rats. To see just how liver compares to other foods, check out Chris Kresser’s micronutrient chart.
In today’s world, nutrient deficiencies in children and adults are rampant. These can lead to common chronic ailments. In a 2017 epidemiological study, researchers found that nutritional deficiencies are quite common in the U.S. The authors stated that “a low proportion of the U.S. population has an adequate diet,” and thirty one percent of children and adults were found to be deficient in at least one vitamin and exhibit symptoms of anemia. Unfortunately our children’s generation is suffering from the nutritional deficiencies of the previous generations, and the effects are starting to show.
Enough of that, now let’s focus on liver and how to incorporate this superfood into your diet. For me, the gateway recipe was chicken liver pate. After five years of making it regularly, I have found some tricks along the way that make for a mouth-watering, luxurious liver pate which will leave you hungry for more. Today I will share my favorite pate recipe and some tips on how to prepare it, just in case you want to brave tasting this humble organ meat.
Liver Preparation Tips
-For beginners, I recommend starting witch chicken livers as they have a less intense flavor than beef, lamb, or pork.
-Soak the livers in milk or lemon juice for several hours as this will yield a milder flavor
-Some will say to remove the thin outer membrane covering the liver. Admittedly for pate, I have always skipped this step.
-Trim off any green spots on the liver as this is bitter bile
Liver Cooking Techniques
-Leave the insides PINK, do not overcook!
-Cook on higher heat for less time and avoid overcrowding the pan or flipping the liver.
-Once it is in the sauté pan, leave it there to cook until the juices run clear. Flip it for a few seconds to brown on the other side and remove from heat.
Chicken Liver Pate Recipe Tips
-The cooking fat matters. I find that bacon grease works wonders for delivering a complex, smoky flavor to the finished product.
-The spice mixture I love to use is: nutmeg, cloves, thyme, and allspice. These are kept in the pantry at all times in order to create the perfect liver pate.
-A little cognac is the secret ingredient that takes the pate to the next level. I use the cognac to deglaze the pan, cook down the alcohol, and add the remaining liquid and brown bits into the blender before blending.
-For a truly luscious and creamy pate, add generous amounts of butter or cream before blending.
-A high powered blender is essential. Being a busy mom means I have less time for extra steps in recipes: such as trimming the livers, or running the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. I have found that my Vitamix does a fabulous job of creating a creamy and smooth pate consistency.
-Don’t be afraid to over salt the pate when it is warm so when it cools, it will be the perfect flavor.
Now for the recipe:
Perfect Chicken Liver Pate
Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 20 minutes; Total time: 35 minutes
- 1 lb Chicken liver
- 1 Onion, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup Bacon grease
- 1 tsp Thyme
- ½ tsp Nutmeg
- ½ tsp Cloves
- 1 tsp Allspice
- ½ cup Raw butter or cream
- 1 tbsp Cognac (or sherry, port, brandy)
- Rosemary (optional)
- Bacon (optional)
- Oregano (optional)
- *Optional: Soak the livers in milk or lemon juice for 2-6hrs. This is said to help reduce the “livery” taste
- Place the 1/4 cup of bacon grease in the pan and brown the chopped onions on medium heat.
- Once the onions are soft and brown, add the livers to the pan. Watch the heat so as not to overcook the livers.
- Add the nutmeg, clove, thyme, allspice, to the pan with the livers and let everything cook together. Keep the livers pink in the middle.
- Once the livers have browned slightly, flip them over to cook for 30 seconds-1 minute on the other side.
- Turn off the heat and pour livers into the vitamix along with the onions and spices.
- Put 1 TBS of cognac in the pan to deglaze the pan. Let the alcohol cook off for about 1-2 minutes and use a spatula to loosen and scrape all the browned bits.
- Add to the vitamix the cognac and browned bits.
- Add 1/2 cup of the butter or cream to the vitamix. Blend everything together on high until creamy and smooth.
- Once everything is blended together add salt and pepper to taste. Generously salt the pate mixture. It should taste too salty when warm and when cooled the pate will taste perfect.
- Transfer the pate mixture into a glass Tupperware and let it cool in the fridge for several hours. Serve at room temperature.
Ideas for what to eat with the pate: apples, carrots, bell peppers, radishes, crackers, sourdough bread, raw cheese, or by the spoonful!